Sunday, November 20, 2011

Extracts from ANTIGONE


CHORUS  There is nothing stranger than man.
    As if he were a storm 
    he strides through the waves
    of the winter seas 
    and year after year
    he wears down the oldest god,
    earth herself, with his ploughshare.

    In his clever nets
    he captures whole nations
    of feather-headed birds 
    and the ocean’s salty brood.
    He masters the beasts
    that wander the open hills
    and yokes with his cunning
    the long-maned horse
    and the muscled mountain bull.

    He taught himself speech
    and the flight of thought
    and imagined the laws of the city.
    He shelters himself 
    from the hostile weather.
    He never meets the future
    without something in his hand.
    He has found a cure
    for every illness.
    Death alone baffles him.

    Skilful beyond imagining,
    subtle beyond hope,
    he can turn in his wilfulness
    to good or to evil.
    When he honours the laws
    of the city and the gods
    his standing is noble.
    But the man who betrays
    the laws of the city
    deserves no home.
    May one such as this
    never sit at my table.
    May a man like this
    never share my thoughts.

CREON   Hard wills are first to break.
    The smallest bridle
    tames the wildest horse.
    Those whose pride is bitter 
    are more shamed as slaves.
    This girl laughed in her insolence
    when she broke my law.
    Am I the King of Thebes
    or is she?
    She is my sister’s child
    but even if she were my daughter
    I’d take her life for this.
    I’ll trample all her pride
    under my law,
    she and her sister.
    Summon her:
    I saw her just now in the house,
    out of her wits with madness.

    Often the mind convicts itself
    when plotting darkness.
    But I hate more those who do evil
    and make a virtue of it.

ANTIGONE  Do you desire anything more than my death?

CREON   No more than that.
    Your death is everything.

ANTIGONE  Then what are you waiting for?
    You have nothing to say
    that can please me
    and I can say nothing
    that will charm your ear.
    What greater glory could I seek
    than to honour my brother?
    All men would say so
    if fear did not silence them.
    But you are a king
    and can do what you like.

CREON   You are alone among Thebans
    in thinking this.

ANTIGONE  They know it too
    but keep their mouths shut
    for fear of you.
CREON   Are you not ashamed
    for thinking differently?

ANTIGONE  I see no shame
    in loving my brother.

CREON   And wasn’t it a brother 
    who died opposing him?

ANTIGONE  Yes, a full brother, 
    born of the same parents.

CREON   Then is not your loyalty
    disloyal to that brother’s memory?

ANTIGONE  My brother would not say so.

CREON   He would if he were given
    the same honours as a traitor.

ANTIGONE  He was not a slave who died.
    He was our brother.

CREON   A brother who laid waste the land
    the other died defending.

ANTIGONE  In death all are equal.

CREON   There's no equality
    between this good man
    and that impious corpse.

ANTIGONE  Who knows what laws
    rule the land of the dead?

CREON   Even in death
    an enemy is an enemy.

ANTIGONE  My nature turns to those I love,
    not to my enemies.

CREON   Then love the dead
    when you walk with them
    in the world below.
    While I am king 
    no woman shall rule in Thebes. 

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